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St Barnabas Church at Horton-Cum-Studley - geograph.org.uk - 1747202.jpg
St Barnabas Church, Horton-cum-Studley
Grid reference: SP5912
Location: 51°48’22"N, 1°7’52"W
Population: 455  (2011)
Post town: Oxford
Postcode: OX33
Dialling code: 01865
Local Government
Council: Cherwell
Website: Horton-cum-Studley

Horton-cum-Studley is a village and civil parish in Oxfordshire about 6½ miles north-east of the centre of Oxford and bordering Otmoor, and is one of the "Seven Towns" of Otmoor. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 455.[1]

Although traditionally a rural community, according to the latest demographic data, it is now home to professionals who work in Oxford and the surrounding urban centres of Bicester, High Wycombe and West London. There are a large number of younger professional families in the village because of a popular village school in nearby Beckley. A majority of residents in the village work in the Healthcare and Educational Sectors.[2]

Civil parish

The hamlet of Studley lies in two parts: one in Oxfordshire and the other in the Hundred of Ashendon in Buckinghamshire, whereas Horton is wholly in Oxfordshire. Horton and all of Studley, including the Buckinghamshire part, have from time immemorial been a part of the ancient parish of Beckley. The Buckinghamshire part of Studley became a separate civil parish, while Horton and the Oxfordshire part of Studley became the civil parish of Horton-cum-Studley. The two parts of Studley were reunited in 1932, when the Studley and Horton-cum-Studley civil parishes were merged.[3]

Manors and priory


Main article: Beckley, Oxfordshire#Manor

Horton's toponym is derived from Old English horu 'dirt' and tūn 'settlement, farm, estate', presumably meaning 'farm on muddy soil'.[4] The oldest known record of Horton is from the reign of Æthelred the Unready: a charter of 1005-11 that records its agricultural land as five hides. However, the Domesday Book of 1086 has no separate entry for Horton[3] as it had been part of the manor of Beckley since before the Norman Conquest.

Until the Norman conquest the manor of Beckley was one of many that belonged to Saxon Wigod, thegn of Wallingford. Thereafter ownership of Horton followed the same descent as that of Beckley. After the Norman conquest the Norman baron Robert D'Oyly acquired Wigod's estates by marriage and then passed a number of them to his brother-in-arms Roger d'Ivry. Beckley and Horton became part of the Honour of St Valery in the 12th century, were held by the Earls of Cornwall in the 13th century, Hugh le Despenser and then The Black Prince in the 14th century and the Crown in the 15th century. Beckley and Horton passed from Princess Elizabeth via Sir Walter Mildmay in 1550 to Sir John Williams, whose descendants were titled Baron Norreys from 1572 and Earl of Abingdon from 1682. Beckley and Horton were broken up into lots and sold by Viscount Bertie, son of Montagu Bertie, 7th Earl of Abingdon, in 1919.[3]


Before the Norman Conquest a man called Azor son of Toti, who held allegiance to Edith of Wessex, consort of Edward the Confessor, held the manor of Lesa or Ash. Azor also had the manors of Iffley and Lillingstone Lovell in Oxfordshire, and other Oxfordshire landholdings at Chastleton and Marsh Baldon. The Domesday Book in 1086 recorded that Roger d'Ivry held the manor, which was assessed at two hides. Ash followed the same descent as Beckley and Horton until 1300, when they were estates of the Honour of St Valery.[3]

By 1190 the tenants of the Honour of St Valery at Ash were the Ash and De Bosco families. Between 1190 and 1213 the two families granted land at either Ash or Marlake (see below) to the Knights Templar. The Order may have disposed of the land before its dissolution in the 14th century, as the Hundred Rolls for the Hundred of Bullingdon for 1279 do not record any Templar landholding in Beckley parish.[3]

In 1361 John of Ash enfeoffed John and Margaret Appleby, the lord and lady of Boarstall. In 1365 the Applebys granted Ash to trustees, who in turn enfeoffed the manor to a second set of trustees. In 1389 the latter trustees were licensed to Ash to the Prioress of Studley. John Appleby died in 1371 and Margaret quitclaimed her rights in 1391.[3]


Studley Priory

The founding date of the Benedictine Studley Priory is not known, but earliest known record of its existence is from 1176, when Bernard de St Valery granted half a hide of land at Horton to the priory. Studley's toponym is derived from Old English meaning "pasture for horses". The priory's foundation led to the abandonment of Ash in favour of a new hamlet of Studley that grew up next to the priory. At one time the priory had 50 nuns but by 1445 their number had fallen to nine. In 1520 there were still only 10 nuns and the priory to be significantly in debt. In 1530 the debt was £60 and the buildings were in disrepair.[5]

Under the Dissolution of the Monasteries Studley Priory surrendered its lands to the Crown in November 1539, which sold them off in February 1540. John Croke bought the priory's lands at Studley and Horton.[5]

In 1621 another Sir John Croke sold Studley to George Croke, who was a lawyer and in the 1630s defended John Hampden in the ship money case. Sir George died in 1642, leaving his estates to his wife for the remainder of her life, with reversion to their son Thomas and thence to other members of their immediate family. Thomas Croke was a Royalist in the Civil War so Parliament sequestered his estates in 1644, but they were discharged in 1646.[3]

Sir Alexander Croke (1758–1842) succeeded to the estate in 1777. Alexander became a maritime lawyer and was the senior justice of the vice admiralty courts of Nova Scotia from 1801: a term of office that included the War of 1812 against the USA. Sir Alexander also wrote satirical verse, many letters and a genealogy of his family. In 1877 Sir Alexander's younger son John Croke sold Studley to John Henderson. In 1953 Studley was still in his family, with his grandson Captain John Henderson being lord of the manor.[3]


Before the Reformation the Preceptory of the Knights Hospitaller at Sandford-on-Thames held land at Marlake. The Order was suppressed in England under Henry VIII and the Crown seized all its property. John Croke, who had bought Studley Priory's lands in 1542, bought the former Hospitaller estate at Marlake in 1542. In 1877 the Crokes sold Marlake and Studley to John Henderson.[3]

Building of the country house called Studley Priory began in the 16th century. The house's plan is irregular, which suggests that parts of the Benedictine priory buildings were absorbed into it. The house had been converted to an hotel by 1953[3] but ceased to be so in 2004.

Chapels and church

Horton and Studley are more than 2½ miles from the church of their ancient parish of Beckley. There is an isolated record of a chaplain serving Horton in the 13th century, but no subsequent records for about the next 300 years. However, there is a record from 1553 of a chapel at Horton that had clearly been there for some time.[3]

About 1639 Sir George Croke had the north wing of Studley Priory converted into a chapel. The old village chapel was allowed to fall into disrepair and by 1685 it had fallen down. Villagers worshipped at the new Priory chapel, and the residents of the almshouses (see below) were duty bound to do so or else half of their weekly allowance would be stopped.[3]

The Church of England parish church of Saint Barnabas was built in 1867, apparently on or close to the site of the former village chapel. This made the Priory chapel unnecessary, so when the Croke family sold Studley to John Henderson in 1877 the chapel was converted into a kitchen and offices.[3]

The present St Barnabas' parish church was designed by the Gothic Revival architect William Butterfield and built in 1867. It is built of yellow brick relieved by red and blue brick detailing. It has a nave, chancel, north aisle. St Barnabas' has no tower but there is a west bell-turret with two bells. The stained-glass windows are by Alexander Gibbs.[6]

Early in the 19th century there were a number of Protestant Nonconformists in Horton and Studley, and some of their homes were licensed for them to worship in. The Methodist chapel was built in 1878.[3]

Economic and social history

Studley had a windmill by 1539, when it was listed among the estates of the priory that had just been dissolved and sold to John Croke. It was recorded on maps in the 17th and 18th centuries and finally on the parish of Beckley's inclosure maps of 1827–31. Its site is recorded by the name Mill Field, at the end of Mill Lane.[3]

Sir George Croke established the Studley Almshouse Charity in 1631 by an indenture that gave it an income from land at Easington, Buckinghamshire. The houses were built in 1639 for four local men over 60 years of age and four local women over 50 "well reputed for religion, and of good character and conversation". A further endowment to the charity was added by Sir Richard Ingoldsby, Lady Elizabeth Ingoldsby and Alexander Croke in 1668. The Otmoor Inclosure Award of 1825 added two acres and eight perches to the charity's endowment. The number of beneficiaries was reduced to two men and two women in 1880.[3]

In June 1643 during the Civil War a force of 500 of Prince Rupert's cavalry reconnoitred Horton, unsuccessfully searching for an advancing force under the Earl of Essex. A few days later Essex advanced and unsuccessfully attacked Islip. After Essex withdrew, a Royalist force from Woodperry returned and drove the sheep off Horton Common.[3]

By 1819 Horton had a schoolmaster and by 1833 it had two small schools. In 1871 there were still two schools, but one had a charitable endowment and had 47 pupils. In 1891 the larger school came under the Church of England parish and had 59 pupils. It was still open in 1952 but by then had only 20 pupils.[3] It has since closed.

Horton had a post office in 1954[3] but it closed in October 2004.[7]


A map of 1641 shows that by then inclosure had embraced at least two thirds of the Manor of Studley: 670 acres. This included only a small proportion of the land around the manor house but a much larger proportion of the land of the former hamlets of Ash and Marlake.[3] Studley Mill Field continued to be cultivated under an open-field system.

By 1786 Horton had no large inclosures but about 150 small ones covering a total of 90 acres. A further 460 acres continued to be worked as common fields. West Farm at Horton was built in the 17th century.[3]

In 1829 Otmoor was inclosed and some of its land was added to the parish of Beckley, including 262 acres for Horton and 200 acres for Studley. In 1831 the parish of Beckley itself was inclosed.[3]


Horton-cum-Studley has a public house, formerly known as the Kings Arms, now trading as The Otmoor Lodge Hotel Bar Restaurant. It also has a modern village hall, the Millennium Hall.[7]

There is a Studley Women's Institute[8] and a Horton-cum-Studley Tennis Club.[9] The village is a thriving community with many events held in the Millennium Hall every month.[10] There is also a biweekly coffee club for village residents and their friends.



Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Horton-cum-Studley)